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Stretch of frigid temps could have lasting impacts on local wineries

PRAIRIE DU SACm WI (WKOW) – Although the temperatures are forecasted to warm up in the coming days, the extended period of bitter cold this winter is likely to have a lasting impact on Wisconsin wineries, including Wollersheim Winery in Sauk County.

Snow is still on the ground at the Prairie Du Sac winery, an establishment with plenty of rich history.

“My grandparents started the winery in 1972,” said Céline Coquard Lenerz, who helps her parents run the business.

“I’ve always grown up running through here,” said Coquard Lenerz, who will one day own and run the winery.

She has experienced a number of winters, but none were quite as brutal as the one we’ve gone through this winter.

“This year was the most extended stretch that we’ve seen around -30 degrees and we haven’t seen that for probably five years,” said Coquard Lenerz.

The grapes grown in their acres of land are suited for Wisconsin’s winters, but not the abnormal stretch of freezing temperatures.

“The vines — it takes four years from planting to get the first harvest of vines. So, if we would have to replant, we would be out for four years,” she added.

Coquard Lenerz and others at the winery plan to start evaluating the buds Thursday and over the next couple of weeks. She’s hopeful they won’t find too many damaged crops.

“We’ll slice through the bud to see if there’s any green in the center. And, if there’s green in the center, it means that it was a healthy bud,” Coquard Lenerz said.

However, she expects to lose between 30 and 35 percent of the buds on their land, ultimately impacting wine sales.

“We make seven wines from all of our property vineyards here and we’ll likely see a smaller amount to some of those,” she added.

No matter the impact, the winery won’t expect to see the potential consequences at least for another year due to the long process it takes to make wine.

Wollersheim may be feeling the impact, but Coquard Lenerz says they aren’t the only winery getting hit hard.

“It’s everyone. Everyone’ going to see it,” she added.

Although it’s likely this brutal winter will have a lasting impact, Coquard Lenerz remains hopeful.

“Even though it will be harder because of the winter that we had, every year is a new chance to make another wine,” she said as she smiled.

Coquard Lenerz said no matter how bad the weather impacts production, prices of their wine won’t change.

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